Robert Budlong Patient Story – Knee Replacement

At 55 years old, Robert decided to have total knee replacement. Today, 6 months later, he’s returning to the activities he loves. Read his story here.

Initial struggle with joint pain

“My knee pain started as an occasional annoyance. I felt pain in both knees, and over time, the right became worse than the left. It got to the point where sitting for long periods of time, at my desk or in the car, became problematic. My knees seemed to lock up every time I tried to stand.

The pain and “locking” sensation started to really interfere with my life. I couldn’t ride a bike, bowl, golf. I couldn’t bend or put much pressure on my knees at all.

I tried exercising, creams, and stretching. Nothing really worked. Finally, I decided to see an orthopedic surgeon.”

Deciding to seek help

“My mom and sister had both been through knee replacement surgery, so I contacted the surgeon they’d seen. I assumed I had mild arthritis, but the surgeon told me I had no cartilage in my right knee, and very little in my left knee. We decided that a total knee replacement was a good next step of treatment for me.”

Not all patients are candidates for this product and/or procedure. Only a medical professional can determine the treatment appropriate for your specific condition.

“I had to wait about 6 months for the surgery. In the meantime, I tried a joint injection. I also did a lot of walking to get as limber as I could before surgery. I knew anything I did before surgery would help after.”

Leading up to surgery

“Since my mom and sister had been through knee replacement surgery, I felt like I knew what to expect. My son is also a physical therapist so I talked with him about what to expect after surgery. I had a great network of support.

On an intellectual level, I felt like I knew what to expect, so I felt ready. I had normal nerves leading up to it, which I think you’re going to have before any medical procedure. I mean, this is a major surgery. I’d never had an operation before. I had a couple broken bones when I was younger, but from that standpoint, it was all going to be new to me.”

Thoughts on recovery

“The recovery process was more painful than I was expecting and I wasn’t prepared for how my scar and bruising would look right after. It was awful looking.

I also felt more helpless than I thought I would right after surgery. Going to bathroom, showering, walking to kitchen… they were accomplishments when I could actually do them. So, in that sense, it was more annoying than I thought it would be."

"The intensity of physical therapy was surprising. I didn’t expect it to be as intense as it was, as quick as it was. Almost immediately, PT was really intense and painful, and it kept up that way for 2 months. It was tough, but I wasn’t going to wuss out – especially since my son way my physical therapist! Loafing my way though would only hurt me. For me, PT was tough, but it needed to be done.

Now, 6 months later, there’s a clear difference between my two knees… a good difference.

I’m not back to 100% but I’m so much better than I was before. I can walk, and the knee doesn’t buckle when I’m mowing the lawn. I do think that I can “feel” the device on my bone when I try to kneel… and I’m not able to kneel very well yet. But, I realize it’s still early.”

Appropriate post-operative activities and pain will differ from patient to patient. Results are not necessarily typical, indicative, or representative of all recipient patients.  Results will vary due to health, weight, activity and other variables.

“Managing my own expectations has been so important throughout this. Human nature is to think that you’re the “outlier”. You read about some young athlete who had surgery and was back to normal just 3 months later. So, you think that it’ll be 3 months for you too. So, if the “average” person will be back to normal in 8 months, surely I’m the outlier who’ll be back to normal in 3 months.

I should have done a better job at managing my own expectations earlier on. For the next one, I’ll have a much better idea of what’s coming. I’m not nearly as nervous for the second. I heard all the ‘advice’ intellectually, but it just didn’t sink in until I experienced it.”

It’s important to follow your doctor’s orders and work hard in the weeks and months following joint replacement surgery to complete your physical therapy.

“Now, people ask me questions about my experience all the time. Did this happen to you? What did you think about this? I can be part of helping others set their own expectations, based on what I went through, which is nice. I’m glad I did it and am not nearly as nervous to have my left knee replaced. And, I’m glad I didn’t wait any longer.”

Talk to your surgeon about whether joint replacement is right for you and the risks of the procedure, including the risks of infection, implant wear, loosening, breakage or failure, any of which can necessitate additional surgery or treatment.

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